Meet Banjo, Jason and Abby
Reconciliation Week: Two-way learning
The phrase ‘two-way learning’ implies learning from a teacher and learning from a student, but at Wesley College it means more.
Two-way learning is a central tenant of the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School, where learning goes both ways. The Studio School’s Aboriginal students come to Yiramalay from communities across Australia and learn about each other’s cultures, traditions and languages.
Two-way learning also takes place between the Studio School’s Aboriginal students and Wesley College’s Melbourne-based students. This sharing of knowledge, backgrounds and experiences is mutually beneficial. It helps all students become wiser, better informed global citizens, and also fosters respect, understanding and empathy.
During Reconciliation Week, a beautiful example of two-way learning could be seen in an interview-style presentation Antonio Vaitohi, Jason Baird and Banjo McIntosh shared with their peers at assembly.
Banjo is the ‘last in the line of McIntosh brothers’ to attend Wesley; the first McIntosh being amongst the first to board at Wesley’s new Learning in Residence boarding facility in 2016.
Originally from NSW, Banjo now lives in Broome and attends the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School. For two terms of the year, he boards at Wesley College in Melbourne – where he has developed a good friendship with Antonio and Jason.
What he most enjoys about living in Melbourne is the people (there are ‘so many different cultures here’, he says) and the shopping! At Wesley, he’s benefited from the many opportunities to try new things, the outstanding music program and living about a minute from the Sports Centre, opportunities he doesn’t find at home.
As a new student, Banjo attended his Induction program at the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School along with students visiting from Wesley Melbourne. It was the best three weeks of his life. He’d heard about Induction from his brothers, but ‘it was great I finally got to experience it,’ he says.
Banjo hopes to study music at the University of Melbourne.
Like Banjo, Jason thoroughly enjoyed the Induction program and even had the chance to introduce some of the other students to his family. When not boarding, Jason lives in Darwin, NT. It’s there that he picked up English as a second language.
He is mad about footy, and would love to play footy at the AFL level. He’s made many friends at footy and at Wesley, and it’s one of the things he likes most about boarding in Melbourne. If not the footy, then Jason wouldn’t mind studying early childhood, like his mum.
For Jason, reconciliation ‘means that we can all live together in harmony and we are already doing this by bringing kids to the [Induction] program’ for two-way learning. Banjo adds that by showing an interest in ‘us and where we’re from’ and asking questions, the students at Wesley are already ‘taking great action’.
Abby is one of our boarders who hails from Kununurra, a small town in East Kimberley, Western Australia. She spent most of her childhood there and has fond memories of camping, hunting and fishing.
Living in Melbourne is quite different to her life back home. ‘There are many opportunities that I have now that I didn’t have in the Kimberley. Where I’m from in Western Australia we had a lack of learning resources, this had a major impact on my desire to learn. Sport was also very limited and didn’t happen very often, luckily at Wesley, all the sports I’m into and wanting to play are offered. Coming to Wesley has definitely given me new hobbies and interests that I like a lot’.
She moved into Wesley’s boarding program at Learning in Residence at the start of 2021, when she entered Year 10. Coming from a bush setting, the move to Melbourne was daunting. ‘The thought of coming to a new place and meeting new people was quite frightening, because I was always within my comfort zone in Kununurra which led to me not experiencing new things.’
She says the support from her mentors at Learning in Residence and Yiramalay teachers has been a significant source of help. ‘Their support for me and wanting the best for myself and my peers has a huge impact on helping us with our studies’.
Abby is making the most of this opportunity, even participating in activities that don’t at first interest her. ‘Every weekend from Friday nights to Sunday evenings, I participate in all the activities, even if they aren’t interesting to me. In the end, all of these experiences aren’t at all regrettable,’ she says. ‘Living in Learning in Residence now makes me happy. Many of the kids where I’m from don’t really get opportunities and chances like this.’